Has it really only been a few months?! Tips for making your schedule work for the long haul

Group Leader Resources | June 8, 2017

This resource covers how you can make advocacy sustainable for the long haul, including tips on how you schedule your meetings, manage your own time, and utilize everyone's talents to help make advocacy a regular habit.

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You’ve heard us say it before, but we’ll say it again: this is a marathon, not a sprint. The key to success is to keep showing up, but we know it’s easy to get overwhelmed by how much is going on and how much there is to do. Here are a few tips on how to make advocacy a habit—and keep it fun and engaging in the months ahead!

Scheduling your meetings for the long haul

As you plan your local group meetings and activities, here are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you can sustain your action for the long haul:

  • Set a regular meeting schedule. Have a general group recurring meeting at the same time, day, and location—like the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month at 7pm at the Library Meeting Room. This will provide clarity and consistency that will help people show up regularly and takes the guess work out of scheduling.
  • Have consistent actions. Similarly, consider a recurring schedule for visiting your MoC’s office. We know some groups go every Tuesday, for example. This regularity helps to ensure that advocacy becomes a habit for your group.
  • Be mindful of varying group member availability. Provide opportunities for people with different schedules and varying degrees of availability. Some people might only have time to come to one action per month—others will be able to participate in multiple sub-groups that have additional meetings every week.
  • Break tasks into smaller pieces. Divide tasks and assignments so that projects and opportunities are available to people with varying availability. You can designate a project leader who can pull the threads together, which also gives more voices a leadership opportunity.P.S. don’t forget to post your events publicly on the Indivisible Action Map, your group’s Facebook page, and on fliers around town.

Creating a culture that supports sustained action

Change isn’t going to happen overnight, so we need to make sure that we are ready to keep standing indivisible as long as it takes. Here are a few tips to make sure that members of your group don’t burn out on the road ahead:

  • Rotate leadership roles. Indivisible is a volunteer-led effort, and we all are juggling multiple priorities in life. Playing a leadership role in a large local group indefinitely can be stressful and time-consuming—so make sure you have a “leaderful” group that enables people to step-up and step-back from leadership roles as-needed. See our resource on identifying leaders in your group for more tips.
  • Create support roles. There’s lots to be done to support effective advocacy beyond direct contact with your MoC—especially for large groups. This includes (but isn’t limited to) coordinating carpools so everyone has a ride to visit an MoC’s office, providing childcare, helping to set up a space for meetings, bringing snacks, and lots more.
  • Find specific roles that match people’s interests and talents. While there are some tasks that you should encourage everyone to join (like calling your MoC and showing up to their offices and town hall events), there’s also some room for specific roles and responsibilities. Encourage people to bring their talents and passions to the table to support your group—whether it’s a videographer who can record a local action at your MoC’s office, or a news junkie who can scan multiple papers every day for relevant local stories.
  • Have fun! Given the magnitude of the challenges we face, we all need to blow off some steam sometimes. In addition to your meetings and actions, consider organizing social events. To sustain grassroots action for the long-haul, people need to be able to connect, unwind, have some fun, and forge the strong bonds that will keep this movement going in the months and years to come.

Setting boundaries

There will always be more work that we could be doing, but in order to sustain our energy in the months ahead, each of us will need to set personal boundaries. Here are a few tips to make sure you and your group members can have the personal time that you need to re-energize:

  • Schedule time for Indivisible work—and for other priorities. You know yourself best, and you know what you need to prioritize in order to sustain your energy for the long-haul. Maybe it is spending time with family or friends. Or daily exercise. Or reading a book. It’s easy to get caught up in the news or Trump’s latest tweet and forget to make time for the other things that really matter. Take the time to reflect on the things that matter to you, and what you need to fit into your daily or weekly routine. Set aside time that you will spend on Indivisible, and time that you will spend on other priorities.
  • Communicate your schedule to others. It can be harder to take a break if everyone thinks that you are always available. Want to prioritize evenings with your family? Let your group members know that you will typically be unavailable from 5-8pm. This will help others give you the space that you need to take a break. Taking a longer break or going on vacation? Turn on “out of office” or “away” messages on email and other forms of communication to let folks know you are unavailable but will get back to them when you return. If you work with a team of group leaders, you may be able to offer an alternative contact for urgent requests.
  • Divide and conquer. Create an on-call system among your leadership team. One benefit of working with a team is that you can divide up work. You can also divide up time. Consider setting up a rotating schedule so that a different leadership team member is on-call each night. If anything urgent comes up, the person on-call can handle it. This gives everyone on the team the time they need to disconnect while ensuring that someone is always available in a crisis.